Tag Archives: pasta salad

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

Tax day has come and gone, meaning it is time for the annual Feast.  We have a lovely barter deal with  our friendly CPA to prepare and file our taxes.  She gives us a nifty planner to fill out each year, we add the required forms and documents, hand it to her and she does all the rest.  While she certainly is honest in the preparation, she also knows how to get us every single deduction possible no matter how seemingly insignificant.  Gotta love that.  And in return, I make her family a feast for dinner just after tax season ends.  Talk about a win-win situation!

Each year I ask her what she would like, and each year she gives that awful response that cooks hate, “oh anything since everything you make is great.”  Sigh, no direction there to point the way.  Fortunately, her teenage son was home while I dropped off the paperwork this year, so I asked him.  Bingo!  He had an answer.  The beef skewers with peanut sauce were a hit with him last year, so this year the meal was built around that along with shrimp and vegetable skewers.  This Mediterranean orzo salad, loaded with veggies, was the perfect accompaniment.  It was simple and delicious, with clear flavors that don’t overwhelm the main dish.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

inspired by this recipe at My Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 3 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 3 TBS red onion, chopped
  • 3 TBS kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1  jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 3 oz feta cheese, crumbled, divided

Directions:

  1. Cook the orzo according to the package directions, omitting salt and oil.  Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. In a large bowl, combine orzo, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, olives, salt and pepper.
  3. Prepare artichokes and vinaigrette by removing the artichokes from the jar, leaving the oil behind.  Chop artichokes and add to orzo mixture.  Add 1/2 of the feta cheese to the oil in the jar, put the lid back on the jar and shake to mix.
  4. Finish salad by adding feta vinaigrette to the orzo salad and tossing gently.  Sprinkle with remaining feta.

Notes:

  • May be served cold or at room temperature.  
  • This was easy to double by just using a larger jar of marinated artichoke hearts.
  • Check your grocery store’s olive bar for kalamatas so you don’t have to splurge for a whole jar.  Unless they are a staple in your pantry, of course.
  • This recipe was originally printed in Cooking Light magazine in 2005.
  • The full menu: beef, shrimp and vegetable skewers, peanut dipping sauce, Joe’s Stone Crab sauce, Caribbean Cocktail sauce, grilled asparagus, Mediterranean Orzo salad, lemon pound cake with fresh strawberries.

Gremelli and Asparagus

pasta asparagus saladOh asparagus! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

Last night, after a quickie pasta dinner, there was still lots of pasta left over. Time to raid the vegetable bin and make a pasta salad! And what was waiting there for me, just begging to be included in the fun? Asparagus. While many dishes that I toss together with bits of this and that from the pantry are better than prison food, I wouldn’t specifically shop for the ingredients to make that dish again. Not so this time. This my friends, is a winner. Part of the love in this dish (yes, that’s a shout out to Carla from Top Chef!) is the pasta itself. Costco carries this brand in 6 packs, and it is truly worth keeping some on hand.Garofalo pasta

The red wine vinegar gives this a nice tang while the Parmesan rounds out the flavors. Enjoy.

No notes were taken during the creation of this dish, so bear with me on the directions.

Ingredients:

half pack of gemelli or similar pasta, cooked al dente

1 bunch asparagus, but into 1 inch pieces

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tsp dried basil

3 TBS flat leaf parsley, minced

1 TBS olive oil, plus 1 tsp for cooking

1 TBS red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp kosher salt

ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat a skillet to medium high, add oil and asparagus. Quickly cook so that the outsides of the asparagus begin to darken but the insides are still crisp, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Add pasta and mix gently. Add Parmesan and asparagus to pasta and combine.